Deepavali or Diwali is known as the festival of lights. Deepa means light and vali means row, so the name literally means row of lights. It is the most important festival in all parts of India except Kerala and Bengal. The festival is celebrated on Amavasi day (New Moon) in the month of Aippasi according to the Tamil calendar which corresponds to October/November. This year it is on November 5th. In Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the festival is known as Deepavali while the rest of India has shortened the name to Deepavali. Celebrating Deepavali every year symbolizes a culture which promotes knowledge over ignorance, light over darkness and goodness over evil. Today it symbolizes hope, friendship and the joy of life. It is a time for friendship and sharing. Even though this is more of a cultural than religious holiday, Goddess Lakshmi is the main deity of Deepavali who brings wealth and prosperity to every home. The sweet smelling herb tulasi (basil) is grown in most houses in Kerala and Tamil Nadu which people believe represents the Goddess Lakshmi.
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